By Susan Albert
Some people enjoy growing vegetables in fall more than spring. In the South Central region, cool-season vegetables include beets, carrots, cabbages, broccoli, onions, greens, radishes, turnips, lettuces, chard and more. By planting now, you can continue to harvest fresh produce throughout fall.
Every few weeks you can plant a succession of lettuce and other greens that mature quickly so you always have a fresh supply.
Prepare your fall garden site with amendments for an enriched, well-drained soil. If you use the same space you did in spring, be sure to remove any remaining debris and lightly infuse the ground with organic fertilizer, such as cow or horse manure, or commercial fertilizer such as 10-20-10.
If you only have room for a small garden, consider planting in containers. Just make sure the pots are large enough to accommodate the vegetables’ mature size. Containers need watering more frequently during the hottest months—as well as additional applications of fertilizer because all the watering causes the fertilizer to leach through the soil
In Oklahoma you can plant seeds and transplants June through September. It may be best to start seeds indoors in trays and transplant them into the garden after about a month. This “hardening off” process means taking the seedlings to a shady spot outdoors, then gradually increasing the amount of sunlight they get until they’re ready for full sun (about 7–10 days).
In Texas’ five growing regions, the fall season’s planting dates range from June to December. Texas Extension guides recommend transplanting in fall for a jump-start on establishing and growing.
When planning your fall vegetable garden, determine which vegetables tolerate frost and which don’t, and group them accordingly. Long-term frost-tolerant vegetables include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, garlic, kale, lettuces, mustard, onions, parsleys, spinach, and turnips.
Those vegetables continue producing past frost, and by using cold frames and row covers, you can enjoy fresh vegetables even into winter.
Short-term, frost-susceptible vegetables include beans, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peas, peppers, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, tomatoes, and watermelon. Plant these intending to harvest before a killing frost.
For recommended varieties, see the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Fall Gardening Guide and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension fact sheet on Fall Gardening. Also consult the Lowe’s garden experts for vegetables that do well in your area.
Vegetables generally need a minimum six hours of sun a day, but young plants suffer in the harsh late-summer environment without protection. Cover the plants with screening, or place cardboard on the plants’ west sides to provide shade in the afternoon.
Because of the intense heat and drying winds, it’s vital that plants have plenty of water. A drip irrigation system provides more water where it is needed, and less runoff. In addition, mulch helps cool the soil and prevent excess water evaporation.
With regular watering and fertilizing, vegetables grown in fall can continue to provide fresh produce for the season. They also store well for later use.
Fall offers a second lease on life for many edible gardens. Sometimes it’s even better for growing vegetables than summer. See what you can grow this autumn.Learn More